Fantasy Premier League managers should consider Roberto Firmino (£9.3m) as Double Gameweek 24 edges closer.
That’s when Liverpool play two fixtures in one Gameweek, travelling to Wolves and West Ham in the space of six days – and many of us are still working out which type of triple-up to invest in.
Going into Gameweek 23, the worldwide ownership figures tell us that the offensive and defensive double-ups are likely to be given equal consideration at this stage:
- Virgil van Dijk (£6.4m): 40.1%
- Sadio Mané (£12.4m): 40.0%
- Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m): 38.8%
- Mohamed Salah (£12.3m): 25.4%
- Andrew Robertson (£7.0m): 19.6%
The two prevailing options in the FPL community thus far are a Mané/Salah double-up or one involving both Alexander-Arnold and Robertson.
However, sitting at just 9.6% ownership, Firmino should not be overlooked as an alternative route into a Liverpool triple-up.
In this article, we are going to analyse the Brazilian’s underlying data from recent matches and compare him against other Liverpool options.
As this uses data from the Fantasy Football Scout Members Area, only those with Membership can access it in full.
Do Liverpool’s fixtures warrant an attacking double-up?
Before comparing Liverpool’s attacking assets, it seems wise to examine the defensive data of their Double Gameweek opponents, if nothing else, to check that they are as brittle at the back as we need them to be.
As both Wolves and West Ham will be playing at home in Double Gameweek 24, we have assessed them over their last four matches played in front of their own fans.
As you can see, we get quite mixed results from the two teams.
West Ham look considerably more vulnerable to Liverpool’s attack as they have conceded 30 shots in the box over their last four at home, only five sides shipping more efforts there.
However, by comparison, Wolves have allowed just 18 shots in their home penalty box over the same period, one fewer than Liverpool and bettered only Sheffield United (16) and Manchester United (13).
When it comes to the quality of chances being given up by either defence, the gap is even bigger.
As you can see, only Aston Villa (17) have conceded more big chances in their last four at home than West Ham (13).
As for Wolves, their five big chances conceded is the third-best in the league and bettered only by Southampton (three) and Manchester United (two).
However, the expected data for Wolves’ last four home matches shows they should have conceded 3.12 goals but, let in five. Across the whole season, their expected goals conceded (xGC) figure sits at 25.31 but Nuno Espirito Santo’s men have actually let in 28.
That may be why Wolves have only kept two clean sheets from a possible 11 at Molineux.
This data seems to be consistent with the theory that Wolves are continuing to earn their reputation for clean sheet ‘nearly men’ i.e. a team that often boasts decent defensive figures but has a hard time converting these into concrete shutouts.
Furthermore, in four home matches against last season’s top-six in 2019/20, Nuno Espirito Santo’s men have conceded 10 times.
It, therefore, seems likely that Liverpool will find a way to break through Wolves’ defence in Double Gameweek 24, even if they may not thrash them, which seems a fate they may spare for West Ham.
The Hammers may be in the early stages of a new (or perhaps, we should say ‘returning’) manager but, based on recent performances, they may have to work miracles to improve in time to face Liverpool, especially with their goalkeeper situation so uncertain.
Either way, it looks unlikely that West Ham will make life too difficult for Liverpool in Double Gameweek 24, especially as the Reds have scored four times in two of their last three Premier League visits to east London.
How does Firmino compare with his colleagues?
In short, the answer is very favourably.
For some time now, Firmino’s underlying statistics have been competing very nicely with both Salah and Mané which should turn the heads of Fantasy managers considering his cost.
We’ll start by looking at how Firmino has fared over the last four Gameweeks.
During this time, the Brazilian has shot 13 times in the box, more than any of his colleagues.
In fact, during this period, Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£5.9m), Danny Ings (£6.8m) and Gabriel Jesus (£9.5m) are the only players in the whole of the Premier League to have registered more efforts inside the penalty area.
As you can see, during this period, Mané has managed 11 penalty box shots in 339 minutes while Salah has just nine in 338.
Firmino has also been in a favourable position when it comes to the quality of his chances since Gameweek 19 too.
The five big chances he has been afforded in this time is the joint-best among Liverpool players, level with Mané and three more than Salah.
Furthermore, this total is the joint-second-best in the Premier League, only Jesus (nine) handed more big chances in his last four outings than Firmino.
Mané is the most accurate of the Liverpool options over their last four matches, registering six shots on target.
However, Firmino is only one behind the Senegalese international with five of his own, the same as Salah.
How does Firmino look on the road?
While the Brazilian has compared very favourably with his colleagues over the last four matches, he really comes into his own when we change the parameters to last four away matches.
It is a well-documented and bizarre fact that Firmino is yet to score a Premier League goal at Anfield this season.
However, he has still been finding the net on his travels, all seven of his league goals coming away from home – particularly pertinent considering that both of Liverpool’s Double Gameweek 24 fixtures are on the road.
With the filter switched to last four away matches, Firmino goes further clear of his team-mates when it comes to the above goal threat statistics.
During this period, he has registered 13 shots in the box, six big chances and seven efforts on target. He has been converting too, scoring four goals in these matches, more than any other colleague.
Meanwhile, Mané has 11 in the box, four big chances and six shots on target and Salah sits further below that on 11 shots in the box, two big chances and five shots on target.
When it comes to creativity, there is more parity between each member of Liverpool’s front-three during this period.
Over their last four away matches, Firmino, Mané and Salah have each played eight key passes, although the latter is the leader for big chances created (three).
The expected data combines all of that information to tell us just how much consideration Firmino deserves compared to his colleagues.
Over the last four away matches, Mané has the best minutes per expected goal involvement (xGI) with a score of 108.3 but Firmino is not too far behind on 117.7.
That figure is good enough for him to be just ahead of Salah on 119.8.
Firmino stands every chance of matching Salah and Mané’s output in Double Gameweek 24.
With Wolves and West Ham looking likely to concede in their meetings with Liverpool, Firmino’s recent performances indicate he can be involved in making that happen.
Both over the last four matches and his last four away trips especially, the Brazilian has produced some incredibly encouraging underlying statistics.
For example, it looks as if he is just as likely to assist as Mané and more likely to score than Salah based on the numbers we have seen.
It must be said that the gap between Firmino and his two attacking colleagues is not necessarily that huge, especially as his goals are worth one less point and he cannot benefit from clean sheets either.
Therefore, it’s hard to say that he is necessarily the vastly better option regardless of cost.
However, Firmino’s valuation, at present roughly £3.0m lower than Salah or Mané’s, is the key factor here.
With the ownership figures of Salah and Mané somewhat intimidating, some Fantasy managers may feel the pressure to put their teams under major surgery to get both of them in.
Naturally, this will almost certainly result in some hits to accommodate the swapping of premium options and may, of course, mean sacrificing Kevin De Bruyne (£10.7m), who has averaged 8.8 points over the last six Gameweeks.
However, with Firmino offering an opportunity to match his more expensive colleagues, he presents a less painful route into a Liverpool attacking double-up.
For example, those in possession of Tammy Abraham (£7.8m) and some cash in the bank may find Double Gameweek 24 an ideal time to upgrade to Firmino – as Chelsea face a resurgent Arsenal, Leicester, Manchester United and Spurs between then and Gameweek 27.
Crucially, if opting for Firmino over Salah or Mané allows Fantasy managers to avoid a hit for Double Gameweek 24, when hits may well be quite common, it could even put them in an advantageous position before a ball has even been kicked.
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